Susie and Katie worked together getting supper ready. There wasn't much
to do. Friday night was spaghetti night and Susie had already made the sauce.
After the salad was made, Katie told her sister she would finish the rest
on her own. Katie set the table. She hummed to herself as she worked. It
made her feel good to be doing something for the family.
"I may be the youngest," she thought, "but I can do my
share the same as everyone else. I wish dad would see that sometimes. He
never lets me do anything. He treats me like I'm six-years old or something."
She stopped working for a moment and looked at an old photograph that
was hanging on the wall behind the kitchen table. It had been taken almost
six years ago. The whole family was standing in front of Max's cab.
"Now that's the way I looked when I was six," she said. "I
don't look anything like that anymore. I'm different. You'd think dad would
She wrinkled her nose and went on to study the rest of the family. Her
mother looked very pretty in the photograph. She was standing next to Katie
and holding her hand. Susie was standing next to them. She looked pretty
too. Katie wondered if she would look like Susie when she got older. She
hoped so. She didn't want to took like Jim. She thought Jim looked kind
Max was standing next to Jim with his hand on his shoulder. He looked
a lot younger in the photo and he was actually quite thin. Katie sighed
and shook her head. Everything was different now. Max was fat and Jim was
trying to grow a moustache. Susie was twenty-one and she drove a cab during
the summers. And Katie's mother was dead.
She had died three years ago. It didn't feel so bad to think about it
now. Sometimes it seemed to Katie that her mother wasn't really dead. It
was as if she had just gone on a long trip, without telling anyone, or to
live in a distant city. Even though Katie knew it wasn't true, she liked
to pretend that her mother was waiting for her somewhere, and that when
she grew up she would be able to find her again and tell her everything
that had happened since the day she had left.
Max came into the kitchen and Katie turned to see what he wanted. He
had his shirt on this time, but he was holding some socks in his hand. Actually,
he was holding a whole bunch of socks - none of them matched.
"Katydid, this is very discouraging," he said. "If you
insist on doing the laundry and losing my socks, the least you could do
is to lose them in pairs." He shook the socks at her.
"They're probably just stuck to some of the other clothes,"
Katie told him. "Look, there's one on the back of your shirt."
She went over and plucked it off.
Max was delighted. He sat down at the kitchen table and put on the matching
pair. He wiggled his toes and beamed fondly at them. "I guess I'll
find the others later," he said, "unless you put them into Jim's
cake. You didn't do that, did you?"
Katie gave him a look. She was about to explain just what had happened
to the socks when Max shouted, "Look out!"
Katie jumped. The spaghetti was boiling over and white starchy bubbles
were rolling down the sides of the pot. She grabbed the oven mitts, but
Max was faster. He wrapped some socks around his hands and pulled the pot
from the stove.
"Susie" he bellowed, "Susie, come here"
Katie tried to take the spaghetti pot but Max held on tightly and continued
calling for Susie. Susie ran into the kitchen. "What's the matter Max?"
"Everything's falling apart," Max said. "Why aren't you
in here taking care of things? How many times have I told you not to give
all the work to Katie? She's too young. Everything gets messed up."
"I am not messing up everything," Katie protested.
"You're not?" said Max. "The spaghetti was about to explode."
Susie rolled her eyes and took the spaghetti pot. "You should be
ashamed of yourself for making so much noise. Spaghetti pots boil over all
"They never boil over for you," said Max.
"Sure they do, you've just never been here when it's happened.
Katie forgot to watch it, that's all. You were probably distracting her."
"He was," said Katie.
"There, you see?" said Susie. "It's your fault."
She looked at the socks she had taken from Max. There were two more on the
table and one on the floor. "What are your socks doing all over the
kitchen?" she asked.
"Katie got them all scrambled in the dryer," grumbled Max.
"And now you've got them scrambled all over the kitchen,"
said Susie as she picked them up. "Honestly Max, will you get it into
your head that Katie's perfectly capable of taking care of things when I'm
not around. She's a big girl now."
"She's only twelve," said Max.
"I'm almost thirteen," said Katie.
"And old enough to help with things," said Susie. "When
I was her age I helped mother all the time."
Susie bundled the socks together and went down the hall with them. Max
looked at Katie. He grinned a little sheepishly and winked.
"She's right Katydid"' he admitted. "I'm sorry I made
such a fuss. All things considered, you're doing very well and I shouldn't
be expecting you to do as good a job as Susie. After all, you're hardly
more than half her age."
Max reached over and ruffled her hair. Then he winked again. Katie managed
a little smile. She knew he was trying to be nice and after all he was apologizing.
"And listen - about your cake," Max said.
"No more jokes about the cake," Katie warned him.
"Not a joke, it's an idea. It came to me while I was in the shower,"
said Max and he reached up into the cupboard and brought down a small bag
"For the top of the cake," he said. "We can spell something
on the icing."
It was a pretty good idea, and Katie told him so. Max laughed. "Not
bad for an old man, eh? I'm getting smarter all the time," Max said.
"Eat Smarties and get smarter, that's what I say. Good for belly building
Together they spelled out HAPPY SUMMER across the top of the cake. Katie
had to admit that it was starting to look all right. She was just admiring
it when Jim came in through the back door.
"Hi everyone, I'm home," he called.
Katie jumped in front of the cake so he wouldn't see it. "Don't
come in!" she yelled at him. "Go away. Dad, do something!"
Max took Jim firmly by the shoulders and pushed him out the back door.
"Quick," he told Katie, "Get it in the fridge."
Katie lost no time. She opened the fridge door with one hand and balanced
the cake in the other. There wasn't much room on the shelves, so she moved
some things around with her free hand. But she forgot about the fridge door,
and it came bouncing back.
"Look out," called Max. Before Katie had time to look around,
the fridge door bumped the cake plate neatly off her outstretched hand.
The cake landed upside down on the floor with a heartrending thud. The plate
sat on top like a hat.
Max opened the door. "Surprise," he shouted happily, and he
pointed at the cake.
"What's that?" asked Jim.
"We aren't sure," admitted Max. "Katie made it, but I
don't think she's done yet. She still has to put it through the blender."
Katie didn't say anything. She just put the cake back on the plate.
Most of the Smarties had been pushed down into the frosting. Only a u and
two m's were still in sight, so instead of spelling HAPPY SUMMER the top
of the cake spelled umm.
"Hey, now we know what it is:' said Max. "It's a chocolate
umm cake. I'll bet it's the best chocolate umm cake in all Vancouver."
Katie kept staring at the cake. She didn't know whether to laugh or
cry. Max and Jim had no difficulty deciding. They laughed. Susie laughed
too when she came in for supper. In the end, Katie managed a smile. She
didn't want to let on how she really felt.